Yes, Dr. Gary Chapman, Divorce CAN Lead to Personal Happiness


Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, advises against divorce, even in abusive marriages. In his book Hope for the Separated, Chapman states that divorce will never lead to personal happiness.


But is he correct? No.

The vast majority of Christians who needed a life-saving divorce report they are "happy" or "very happy," according to scientific studies. (See link to three studies HERE. And another study HERE.)


Below, I've included comments from 50 divorced Christians in my Life-Saving Divorce Private Facebook group.

They disagree with Chapman and say that a legal divorce brought them relief from the toxic environment, safety from a vicious spouse, and greater well-being for those who felt trapped in a destructive marriage.


As people of faith, we believe in the sanctity of marriage.

We believe that God meant marriage to be loving, faithful, undefiled, and lifelong. We don't approve of immature or selfish divorces. We counsel against people rushing into marriage without sober reflection. We believe marriage is for the long haul. We know there are frivolous "I miss the party life" divorces or "I'm bored" divorces. But we also know there are divorces for marriage-destroying sins: a pattern of assault, violence, infidelity, abuse, family-crushing addictions, or abandonment/neglect of duty. We call these the "life-saving divorces."


Before we start, it's important to note that Chapman is not a licensed counselor, nor does he have a master's or Ph.D. in counseling or family therapy or a related subject. He holds a Ph.D. in adult education. So keep that in mind. His opinion isn't any more valid than yours or mine.


Considering his stance, I asked a group of divorced Christians in the Christian community for their thoughts. When they entered marriage, divorce was never an option in their minds. Even separation for violence or infidelity seemed like a negative choice. But when all attempts at counseling failed, and as the abuse and betrayal became more unbearable, they saw the effect on themselves and their children, and chose the unthinkable.

To their surprise, they found peace and relief from the chaos after divorce. They found safety and they are happy they are out. But that's not what Chapman wants you to believe. He says—

"Understand That Divorce Will Never Lead To Personal Happiness."

—Gary Chapman’s Claim

So, my question to the group was: “Do You Agree with Gary Chapman?”


People enthusiastically responded. I was deluged with comments, primarily from Christian survivors of domestic violence (both men and women). Below, you will find a selection of their comments.



Many marital abuse victims wanted to express their gratitude to the Lord for rescuing them from danger.

    • —“I am happy. I believe that God can and does “fix” some marriages. I also firmly believe that God told me I had permission to leave.”
    • —“I’m against frivolous divorces, but in my case, I was cheated on for five years and emotionally abused for longer than that. This is the best I’ve felt in close to a decade. For those in abusive or adulterous marriages, divorce can heal us and make us happy.”
    • —I'm incredibly happy since my divorce. I feel like I'm who I used to be before my light was darkened. Those who knew me before my ex say my sparkle is back.


    • —“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life since my life-saving divorce.”


    • —“I'm so incredibly happy, you cannot imagine! Even though I've been single for 22 years and would prefer to have a relationship. Life with an abuser is not life at all. It's a gulag. When he left, a cloud lifted from the whole family.”


    • —“I don’t agree [with Chapman]. It’s been the happiest most freeing time of my life after 27 years of his hell. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its challenges, and it doesn’t mean the divorce process wasn’t hell. Of course, it was, my ex-husband made it hell. And life always has challenges. But happy…free…joy…most definitely!!”


    • —“My divorce brought me happiness. Total and utter peace and happiness! And now I can focus on God because my new husband doesn’t require my worship.”


    • —“I am happy and healed from a lifetime of spiritual and mental abuse from my father and spiritual, mental, and physical abuse from my ex-husband. I’m rid of both of them and walking in a freedom with Christ that I have never known! God did it! He showed me the way and gave me the people that led me to freedom! Gary Chapman can step off!”


    • —“I have never missed my ex for one second and I feel so much more alive and happy! Single is way better for my physical, mental, and emotional health!”


    • —“By the end of the marriage, I hated my ex. 40 years of abuse will do that. Now I just don't care. He moved on and remarried very quickly. I'm happily single.


    • —“Marriage was chaotic and oppressive. All the chaos, strife, angst left when I escaped from and divorced my abuser! I am so thankful for peace and tranquility in my home now!”


Some people were taken aback by Gary Chapman's lack of insight in this matter.


    • —“For most of us, personal happiness wasn’t the goal. Personal safety was.”
    • —“So, Gary believes we are all much happier to be abused, cheated on, and destroyed, than to be free of that? He’s obviously never *listened* to a divorced domestic violence survivor!”



    • —“Nope. I’m pretty happy. Much happier than when I was married.”



    • —“Do not agree. I'm gloriously happy!”



    • —“I’m pretty happy as a divorced woman. Much happier, in fact, than I ever was while married [to an abuser].”



    • —“As a man who was married to a habitually unfaithful wife, I can say I did the right thing: divorced and happily remarried for nearly 20 years.”



    • —“If I’d have known how happy divorce would make me, I’d have done it sooner.”



    • —“How I could NOT be happy? I'm no longer married to a sexually destructive man who was mixed up with all kinds of abusive behavior.”



    • —“I'm laughing out loud at Gary’s advice.”



    • —“Divorce delivers you from devastation to freedom. You can’t even begin to understand it if you have not experienced that.”



    • —“Getting a life-saving divorce is the best thing I have ever done.”



    • —“My divorce definitely led to my happiness.”




Some people viewed Gary Chapman’s advice as dangerous:



  • —“Voices like Gary’s always suggest that we got a ‘grass is greener’ divorce or a ‘Hollywood’ divorce. But we got out to save our lives, praying for God’s help and leaping out into the darkness, never believing we would ever be happy again. But we were, and that surprised us.”
  • —“Actually, in a sense Gary’s statement is true. Just as marriage can never lead to happiness, neither does divorce. What divorce will lead to is PEACE. Peace from abuse, oppression, domination, ridicule, degradation, manipulation, control, and a myriad of other toxic forms of neglect!”
  • —“Obviously he hasn't talked abuse victims who divorced. I'm incredibly happy. Other people might look at what I supposedly lost (my beautiful home) but I see only gain as I settle into this tiny apartment. Freedom. Peace. Safety. Can't put a price on those.”
  • “After 35 years of stress I my health was failing. My doctor told me that I was dying from a broken heart, anemia, and a 85 percent chance of congestive heart failure.”
  • —“Never” is such a strong word. Guess I should have stayed married to a child molester.
  • —“I would be dead today if I did not leave my ex. I remarried 13 years ago and have not once, regretted my decision to save my life.”
  • —“I am much happier than when I was married to a sexually destructive man.”
  • —“Apparently he wasn’t married to my ex-husband.”
  • —“Ha! I'm SO much happier after my divorce. In fact, the only unhappiness I experience now occurs when my ex pops back up again, and ever time, I am reminded of just how sick he is.”
  • —“The day my divorce was finalized, I was euphoric. Life has not been easy, and I'll never have the lifestyle I once had; but freedom is the sweetest thing ever.”



The platforming of Gary Chapman (as if he were a real counselor) has sparked considerable anger among certain individuals.

  • —“Happiness isn’t everything, but I will say I am exponentially happier since my life-saving divorce! Blanket statements like this one from Gary Chapman are incredibly naive.”
  • —“[The Chapman] article’s advice is the same mentality and theology that kept me an abusive marriage for so long.”
  • —“I think he would have a different opinion [if the roles were reversed and he was married to a wife who trampled all over him and cheated.]”
  • —“Poppycock like this makes people stay in abusive marriages far longer than they should. From the article: “It’s important that a spouse considering separation understand that he or she has a great deal of power to change the marriage.” I used to believe that. It’s that type of thinking that keeps people trapped in abusive marriages. It’s nonsense.”
  • —“Yes, there are many people who embrace the "no divorce" ideology, and I'm convinced they mean well, but they don't realize that science shows that divorce saves lives. They were never open-minded enough to ask why so many divorcees and their kids are happy and doing better.”
  • —“This is not a fluke, it’s common in his writings. In Chapman's book, The Marriage You've Always Wanted, he brings up the word “divorce” a whopping 14 times. Astonishingly enough, in each and every anecdote he gives, divorce is portrayed as an act exclusive to vindictive, malicious women. From my perspective, it seems that either Chapman has never bothered to engage with a victim of abuse, or worse yet, he simply couldn't care less about their well-being or safety. It's abundantly clear that the prospect of you or your children suffering a prolonged, agonizing demise at the hands of an abuser holds little significance to him.”
  • —“I adored my husband, and he hated me with his behavior. Even though I prayed him out of the house, I cried myself to sleep after for days. He was the father of my kids! I have NO REGRETS for divorcing him, because a guy who abuses you may stop at nothing to destroy you. Hey, Gary, have you ever even talked to an abused spouse? I can definitely tell he is not a genuine licensed counselor.”
  • —“I stayed in my abusive marriage for over a decade after I started wanting to get out...mostly because of teaching from groups like Focus on the Family. I got more and more depressed. Something people don't often talk about with depression is that it often leads to anger. I was a very angry person...which meant I yelled at my kids a lot. I didn't have energy to be the joyful mom I wanted to be. That damaged my kids. The change in me after my husband moved out 3 years ago was so dramatic. I laugh, and dance around in the kitchen. I take my kids to the library, and to minigolf, and do crafts with them. I very rarely yell anymore. I'm so much happier now. I can be a much better mom now.”



Some people objected to other aspects of the article:


  • —From the article: “True love involves looking out for the best interests of the other person. It’s not natural to want to serve another; it’s natural to love and be kind to the people who love and are kind to us. But Dr. Chapman believes that, with God’s love, couples can do the hard work during separation that leads to an ability to show unconditional love to a spouse.” I believe this is implying that we should love and stay with those who are mistreating us? Again, this is why people (especially Christians) get trapped in abusive marriages. Also, they tell you stories of “impossible” marriages where they were able to be “fixed”. So, if one couple can do it, all marriages can be saved? So much is being misconstrued here! But, to actually answer the question. No, I don’t agree with the assertion that divorce will never lead to personal happiness at all. I’m so much happier since my divorce. I am myself again. My closest friends and family will tell you that. I’m me again. It’s a good feeling. Freeing.
  • —“I also think that Christians tend to mis-define the term "divorce" as something that happens when either party files papers with the court. Actually, most of us in this online group lived divorced for decades before any papers were filed. Clergy likes to quote Malachi 2:16 where God says "I hate divorce", but if you read the preceding verses (something I didn't do until after 20+ years of abusive marriage), you'll see that God was referencing behavior that had already occurred: the men of Judah had been unfaithful to their wives, and God stated very clearly that He hated that behavior because it caused divorce (or in the KJV, the "putting away"). Filing papers hopefully brings legal and financial redress from our civil authorities.”


By the way, by calling himself Dr. Gary Chapman in these advice-giving situations, he is acting unethically and breaking the American Association of Christian Counselors paragraph 1-830-a, He has no earned Master's degree or Ph.D. in counseling, marriage therapy, sociology, psychology, or social work.  And it is against the ethics code of the American Association of Christian Counselors, paragraph 1-830-a, for him to use the title “Doctor” in this situation because his degree is not in counseling or in any related field. (It’s in adult education.)


In my opinion, Gary Chapman doesn’t care about the safety of Christian marriages.

He cares only about blaming women for the destruction in their marriage and telling them to stay and pray. He has admitted that he has had a pattern of being abusive to his wife.


Gary Chapman pressures hundreds of thousands of women and men to stay trapped in destructive, even dangerous, marriages.


Chapman appears to be willfully blind. In his 50-year career, no doubt he’s heard plenty of Christians proclaiming their gratitude to the Lord for their life-saving divorces. He’s chosen to ignore them or brush them off as being malicious and bitter. Is he the kind of loving pastor vulnerable women and men need?


Jesus had compassion for those who were chained in horrible situations by sanctimonious religious leaders and their ideologies. Luke 13 shows us a Jesus who angrily defies the “rules” and heals a woman on the Sabbath.


Rescuing God’s precious children is what Jesus does. And it’s what Jesus wants from all of us, including Dr. Gary Chapman and Focus on the Family.


Are you going through a life-saving divorce and need support and clarity? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 4 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book on divorce for Christians and other people of faith, The Life-Saving Divorce: Paperback:  Or eBook:

Also, sign up for my email list below or HERE







Start Here



Does God Hate Divorce? God Gave Divorce Due to Hardhearted Abusers & Betrayers


Physical and Emotional Abuse & Infidelity


God Allows Divorce to Protect Victims


How to Find a Good Supportive Church


What If My Pastor Says It Would Be Wrong to Get Divorced for Abuse?



Divorce Saves Lives: The Surprising (Wonderful!) Truth About Divorce Nobody Told You

Will I Ever Find Love Again? Dating After Divorce: Good News

Finding Happiness and Health After Divorce


Thriving After Divorce: These Christians Tell their Stories

Self-Doubt, Second-Guessing Ourselves, and Gaslighting


Children and Divorce: Researchers Give Hope


High Conflict Divorce and Parenting


Recommended Reading List and Free Resources for Christians and Other People of Faith


Common Myths






GET THE BOOK! The Life-Saving Divorce is about divorces for very serious reasons: a pattern of sexual immorality, physical abuse, chronic emotional abuse, family-impairing addictions, abandonment, or severe neglect. This book will give you hope for your future, and optimism about your children. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.




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